Work of geologist, psychologist recognised by Royal Irish Academy

Prof Malcolm MacLachlan and Prof John J. Walsh praised for ‘world-renowned contributions’

Irish academics Prof Malcolm MacLachlan and Prof John J. Walsh have been awarded gold medals by the Royal Irish Academy for their "world-renowned contributions" to psychology and geology.

The medals “acclaim Ireland’s foremost thinkers and aim to identify and recognise inspirational figures”.

The awards, sponsored by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), were presented by Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O'Connor, who applauded the "real-world application of their internationally acclaimed research".

Prof MacLachlan, professor of psychology and social inclusion at NUI Maynooth, received the 2017 RIA Gold Medal in Social Sciences.


He is noted as a world leader in developing the interface between psychology, social inclusion and global health and his research focuses on the practical and psychosocial needs of vulnerable, marginalised groups in underserved areas. His work has been used to inform initiatives by global bodies such as the UN, World Health Organisation and UNESCO.

Prof Walsh, professor of structural geology at UCD School of Earth Sciences, was awarded the 2017 RIA Gold Medal in Environmental Sciences and Geosciences.

The RIA described him as a leading authority on geological faults and said his work has transformed the way geologists view “the subsurface structure of fault systems so much so that his name is known by graduate students in structural geology world-wide”.

It said he is “one of the world’s most highly cited structural geologists and had very substantial impact within industry as well as at the leading edge of academic endeavour”.

HEA chief executive Dr Graham Love said the work of the two men underlined why higher education and research was important to Ireland's development.

“Their work can help provide solutions to our national and global challenges,” he said.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times